Finance Bill (No. 2) 2013 Speech

This Bill is another chapter in outstanding stewardship of the economy by the Minister, Deputy Noonan, since 2011. It represents another serious effort by him and by Government to get our people back to work. All its contents and strategies are predicated on that idea of having our people working again. It is an important step. We can be very happy with the progress to date, although we are in no sense complacent. It is worthy of note that when we came into office there were 400,000 people unemployed and now the live register is at its lowest since 2009, with 3,000 jobs being created every month. A prestigious development and one that supports our IT sector is expansion by Facebook of its European headquarters in Dublin with the creation of an extra 1,000 jobs. That indicates where we are at.
We have travelled a huge journey. Our economy has returned to growth with 0.4% GDP growth in quarter two. We have had two successive years of economic growth in 2011 and 2012. Real GDP increased by 2.2% in 2011 and 0.2% in 2012. We have successfully executed all obligations under the three year bailout programme, a key step in the process of leaving the programme next month, which is very welcome.
One of the vital components of our local economy is our small and medium enterprises. It provides employment for 70% of our workforce, and that sector has created 39,000 new jobs during the past 12 months. In recognition of this fact, the Minister devised a ten point tax reform plan aimed at assisting with cashflow and supporting the creation of more jobs. Part 1, chapter 3, section 21 of the Bill increases from €200,000 to €300,000 the amount of expenditure eligible for research and development. That is important. Business can increase expenditure from 10% to 15% on research and development, which can be outsourced. Now more than ever our small businesses need to be examine ways in which they can set themselves apart in a competitive way. This investment is part of that.
Part 1, Chapter 2, section 6 has an interesting new provision for anyone who is long-term unemployed. An important point that should be put on the record and that merits repeating often enough for people to cop on to it is that there is a two-year exemption form income tax up to a maximum of €40,000 available to anyone who is on the live register for more than 12 months and who wants to set up a new business.
On top of that we have managed to retain the 9% VAT rate for tourism related services. That is critical in my area and every area of the country. The reduction of the air travel tax to 0% is critical. The 13.5% tax relief on home renovations will be very important and will kick-start the construction sector. The credit guarantee scheme is important. The initiatives in regard to agriculture and the transfer of land and partnerships are very important. The Finance Bill is crafted around job creation strategies, incentives for further job creation and initiatives in that area. We have been successful.
Our record with the 9% VAT rate supports the view that the initiatives and incentives in the Bill will work. All our actions as a Government and everything we do should be predicated on that principle. It is important that our people get back to work and everyone gets to participate in the economy and in society.

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website